Sunday Oliseh: “Europe Not Used To African Coaches”

Sunday Oliseh, former Chief Coach of Nigeria’s Super Eagles and current Coach of Fortuna Sittard Football Club of Holland, has stated that one of the reasons why there are not more that few Africans currently coaching professional football clubs in Europe is because Europe is not used to African coaches.

He stated this last Friday, in an interview with John Benneth of BBC radio’s World Football. According to BBC, Sunday Oliseh is the only head coach from sub Saharan Africa currently coaching a professional football club in Europe.

Oliseh explained this trend, stating: “The second reason is the fact that many Africans when they are playing, we don’t do the coaching courses and even after. And most Africans when they finish they just go back home. They go back to Africa to their families which is understandable because when you live in Europe you are spending six months in winter and six months in summer so you can understand that…. And the market here is very fierce, it is quite fierce.  So it is also logical in a sense that priority is given to the nationals, the citizens, before they give it to the foreigner.”

Oliseh took over as coach of Fortuna Sittard, a club playing in the second tier of the Dutch football league in December 2016, at a time when the club only had one point from their last 9 games. He steered them away from relegation danger to their current third position on the table. John Benneth stated that Oliseh is now the first coach of the club to win seven consecutive home games since Bert Van Marwijk in the 1990s. Van Marwijk went on to lead Holland to the finals of  the world cup in 2010.

Speaking on this trail blazing feat, Oliseh said: “It is an opportunity to maybe open ways for others. So the onus is for me to do well. That is why I am really grateful that the results are flowing… just like the responsibility I felt when I was the first Nigerian to play in the Italian league. You have to show a nice behavior so that they could buy a Nigerian….  I think in a way we should also understand the Europeans. Before me, I had no precedence. I didn’t have anybody to imitate when I decided to become a coach in Europe. I didn’t have anybody I could say ‘okay, this is how the African coach did it to get his job done so let me imitate him.’ So it was so good that I had this opportunity to show what I can do. And the Europeans were like ‘what can an African coach do?’ So it is good.”

Sunday Oliseh had played for world famous clubs such as Ajax of Holland, Juventus of Italy and Borussia Dortmund of Germany. He also played for Nigeria’s Super Eagles and participated at the World Cups of 1994 and 1998. He is mostly remembered for scoring Nigeria’s winning goal against Spain at the World cup held in France in 1998,  firing a shot from 25 yards that took Spain’s goalkeeper Andoni Zubizeratta by surprise. Nigeria won that group stage match by 3-2 against all odds, judging from Spain’s rich assemblage of stars at that time.

Oliseh captained Nigeria at the 2002 African cup of Nations and retired from international football later that year. In 2015, he was appointed by Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) as  Chief Coach of the Super Eagles. He resigned from that position in February 2016, due to what he described as contract violations,  lack of support, as well as unpaid wages to his players, his assistants and himself.

He told World Football that before he got his current job, he had been rejected by some clubs he tried to coach, adding that “it is depressing if you have to say the numbers. Lets just leave it like that”. However, he submitted that “we all have to keep working hard and praying that God just blesses us”.

  • Cornelius Ellah

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